A Life of Yoga: TKV Desikachar

By BijaB

The yoga I teach has grown out of my own personal needs and the needs of my students and friends.

Traditionally, yoga is the passing on of a lineage. Yoga teachers teach others what they know.

Most of what I know about yoga came from being in the presence of my teachers, especially T.K.V. Desikachar.

Learning from him has been both an honor and a privilege.

Desikachar is the son of Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, considered one of the greatest yogis of the modern era. Desikachar's approach is based on his father's teachings, a method called Viniyoga — which covers the full spectrum of yoga and adapts to the needs of the individual. The yoga I teach has grown out of my own personal needs and the needs of my students and friends.

Although I had practiced yoga for years, after studying with Desikachar and learning Viniyoga, everything changed. For the first time, I encountered a yoga that outlined a step-by-step program for developing a complete practice for healing the entire person. Through Viniyoga, Desikachar and my teacher Gary Kraftsow made yoga accessible to me. They taught me how to use yoga in my life and how to make it accessible to others.

After my initial experience with Desikachar, I began teaching yoga at Dr. Deepak Chopra's Ayurvedic medical center near Boston. I observed the body in all kinds of conditions and saw how yoga could be adapted to these conditions. I worked with cancer patients, children, seniors, people who were physically challenged, celebrities and athletes. I also taught my father what I learned from Desikachar, how to carefully stretch his back with movement and breath.

After seeing these exercises, Dad's neurologist told him it was the best program for the spine he'd ever seen. Dad's condition improved. Cancer patients felt better (some cancers went into remisison). One quadriplegic began having feelings in his body. The children had fun. Some of the celebrities thought yoga was better than working out.

This was the beginning of my true faith in yoga.

Look for my book, "Emotional Yoga: How the Body Can Heal the Mind."

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